Tips For Overcoming A Fear Of Towing


Getting Started RVing: Tips For Overcoming A Fear Of Towing

Many new RVers say that their primary hesitation when deciding if and when to jump into the lifestyle is the fear of towing — here are nine steps to help you tow your RV with ease.

Many new RVers say that their primary hesitation when deciding if and when to jump into the lifestyle is the fear of towing. Janine here from Girl Camper, and I love helping people get started camping. I understand the intimation factor around towing an RV for the first time and want to help put your mind at ease. Here are nine steps to help you overcome your fear of towing.

1. Don’t Let Other People Set Limits For You

Towing is a skill set like driving a car, riding a bike, or mastering something new. There are tips and tricks that you’ll learn and practice, and eventually they will become second nature. The day will come when it no longer seems like a big deal, and it’s just what you do. Turn off the nay-sayers and trust your gut.

2. Get In The Proper Headspace

The first step to overcoming a fear of towing is to get in the right headspace. While it seems like a daunting task, in reality, more than 1 million people take to the roads in an RV every year. So really, it’s pretty common practice and that should bring you comfort. I remind people all the time that if exceptional skills were required, moving truck rental companies wouldn’t rent trailers to anyone walking in the door in possession of a valid driver’s license.

3. Get Started Online

Get started learning about towing by using resources like YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit. You’ll find posts and videos that can help you learn the “language” of towing. There are two parts to the towing process: the hitch setup and the actual towing part. Knowing the components of a towing setup will help you feel confident when you go to purchase your own setup. 

During your research, you’ll also begin to learn the principles of towing–things like how wide to make your turns, when to pivot to get out of a gas station without jumping the curb, and how to back into a campsite. All of this information will help you once you are behind the wheel yourself.

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4. Rent A U-Haul

When you feel ready to get behind the wheel and put your knowledge to the test, rent a small U-Haul trailer and practice driving it around town during low-traffic times. Most U-Haul or trailer rental locations have small utility trailers that you can rent for a low cost. They will help you set it up and you can get the feel close to home and without an expensive RV behind you. Ask a friend to ride along for encouragement.

5. Get A Towing Mentor

Find a friend who knows how to tow and ask them to let you ride shotgun while they tow. When I took my youngest daughter on a road trip I used the time to explain what I was doing and why. I always scan the road anticipating changes in the traffic flow—merging cars, lane shifts, and unexpected slowdowns. I explained why I was changing lanes, speeding up, or slowing down to keep traffic flowing. Before you ever get behind the wheel you need to learn the situational awareness necessary for every responsible driver.

6. Choose A Small RV When Starting Out

When you’re ready to hit the road, choose a smaller RV. Lightweight towables have all the bells and whistles of their bigger counterparts but are easier for new RVers to handle and don’t always require a large pickup truck to tow. If you want to go larger once you have some experience, then you can do so with confidence.

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7. Have A Reputable RV Dealer Install Your Hitch System

Make sure you purchase your towing setup from a reputable RV dealership that will make sure your RV and tow vehicle are a good match. They will know what you need and make sure the hitch system is professionally installed. They will also teach you how to hitch and unhitch on your own — a properly installed setup will bring you peace of mind.

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8. Record Your Hitching And Unhitching Process

When your RV dealership demonstrates the hitching and unhitching process, record a video of the steps on your phone so that you can review them later. It’s also a good idea to write out the steps and create a checklist to follow so you don’t forget anything.

9. Start Slow And Camp Close To Home

When you’re starting out driving and camping in your towable, it’s best to stick to campgrounds close to home. Travel at off-peak traffic times and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it — RVers are always happy to help others. Also, don’t be afraid to book pull-through campsites while you’re still on the towing learning curve.

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Tackle towing at your own pace. You only need to make yourself happy and, what we want in the end, is a bunch of happy campers. Towing is something you can master and once you do, the open road calls you to adventure!!

Janine Pettit

Girl Camper

Janine Pettit is a lifelong lover of camping who took a 25 year sabbatical when she married a “resort” type guy! She discovered that camping was still in the cards for her when she stumbled onto an article about a women’s outdoor adventure group that travels around the country in RVs, meeting new friends, checking off bucket list adventures and doing things she had only dreamed of. Janine has become an Ambassador for the Girl Camping movement and encourages women to go places and do things in her blog and podcast.